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U.S. Senate confirms Landya McCafferty as new N.H. federal judge

The Senate yesterday confirmed Landya McCafferty for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire.

President Obama in May nominated McCafferty, a Portsmouth resident and federal magistrate judge since 2010, for the seat left empty when Judge Steven McAuliffe took senior status, a form of semiretirement, in April.

The vote to confirm McCafferty was 79-19.

“Landya is exceptionally qualified and experienced and will be a great addition to the federal bench for the District of New Hampshire,” said U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte in a joint statement. “We look forward to her service as the first woman to hold this position in our state now that the Senate has cleared her historic nomination.”

Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, had recommended Obama appoint McCafferty to the federal bench. Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, supported the nomination.

McCafferty may be sworn in Monday or Tuesday, said Jim Starr, clerk of the U.S. District Court in Concord.

A formal ceremony will likely follow in early 2014, he said.

There are three active judges on the court: Paul Barbadoro, Joseph Laplante and now McCafferty. She succeeds McAuliffe, who’s served on the bench since 1992 and has continued to hear cases as a senior judge.

A graduate of Harvard University and Northeastern University School of Law, McCafferty is a former teacher at St. Paul’s School in Concord who’s worked in New Hampshire’s Attorney Discipline Office and as a public defender.

Senate Democrats last month changed the rules for the filibuster, which, when invoked, had required 60 votes to advance to a final up-or-down vote on legislation and presidential nominations. Now, only a simple majority is required for most nominees – a move that drew harsh criticism from Senate Republicans.

McCafferty wasn’t considered a divisive choice for the federal bench. When the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in September to send her nomination to the floor, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the panel, said there was “no controversy.”

But it still took her months to get confirmed. And to protest the new filibuster rule, Senate Republicans this week have opted to use all their allotted time for debate instead of proceeding to votes early, extending the confirmation process.

“I’m pleased that this morning, after several months, we are finally going to get a chance to vote on Landya McCafferty, who is a well-qualified, noncontroversial district court nominee,” Shaheen said yesterday on the Senate floor.

The Senate invoked cloture on McCafferty’s nomination by a 58-40 vote, clearing the way for a final 79-19 vote to confirm her.

On the cloture vote, Ayotte and two other Republicans supported McCafferty; all 40 “no” votes came from Republicans. On the confirmation vote, all 19 “no” votes came from Republican senators.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Legacy Comments6

Third to last paragraph. Sorry to point out to Senator Shaheen, but McCafferty was a very controversial nominee for standing still and doing nothing to correct prosecutor misconduct during her seven-year stint at the Attorney Discipline Office. Shaheen herself asked the for a federal investigation based on information she received from state senator Lou D'Alesandro, but U.S Attorney Kacavas chose to cover-up the facts. Not surprising that Ayotte was a strong supporter of McCafferty. Google: Did AG Eric Holder Shutdown the Investigation of Senator Ayotte? McCafferty was asked to come forward and delay her vote until the Senate had a chance to review all the facts, but she chose not to.

I can fathom why. She was put forward by Obama and to hell with the running of the country if the Republicans can stick it to Obama go for it.

Exactly right Tillie. Obama could nominate the most conservative judge in the country and the Republicans would still filibuster and deny or delay as much and as long as possible. It doesn't matter to them that cases are piling up in court. And everyone knows its true.

In reality, any selection of a judge should not be political. I have never understood how we can nominate or approve any judge based on the way thei view things politically. Politics should never come into the decision of a judge. A judge should decide based on the law and the state or federal Constitution. Period.

QUOTE: "Republicans would still filibuster".... again more proof that current events are not the strong suit of liberals

Thank goodness. This judge is as good as we can get! As a Magistrate Judge, she proved herself to be the impartial scholar that she is. I can not fathom why she was even held up, when every member, Democrat and Republican , on the Judiciary Committee supported her "expeditious" confirmation.

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